Ricardo Jamorabon, Jr.: “Mr. Discipline”
And Among the Pillars Of Notre Dame of Tacurong College
By Apolinario Villalobos
Even before I entered the gates of Notre Dame of Tacurong College as a first year high school student in the early part of the ‘70’s, I already heard the name “Jamorabon”, who was known for being “strict”. He was in-charge of the PMT (Preparatory Military Training) and ROTC (Reserved Officer Training Corp) of the school. When I finally enrolled in first year high school, I saw and heard him talk – with an intimidating booming voice that became his signature for years to come. It was Boy Scout for the first two years of my high school, but on my third and fourth years, there was no choice but to undergo the rigid PMT drills in the amor seco –filled activity ground of the campus. He was indeed, strict, having proved it myself after several push-ups and runs that I did for being late during several formations.
Our school was small compared to other Notre Dame campuses in Cotabato that time, before the province’s partition that made our part become Sultan Kudarat, with the rest as, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, and Maguindanao. We were also among the smallest in population. But every time there were inter-campus drill competitions, we were always on the top three. Thanks to Mr. Jamorabon who took pains in sharing with the corps, platoon, and squad commandeers what he knew about military drills. To be a “commandeer” then, was a sacrifice on the part of the chosen outstanding students, as practice drills after classes would last up to the “novena hour” which was six in the afternoon. On the other hand, the string of patience was practically extended as needed by the big-voiced mentor.
The rigid discipline that was imposed by him among the PMT cadets was also experienced by the college students who took up ROTC, and that included me later on, because he was with us, until our graduation…with our batch of college graduates in 1975 being the last. The college department was closed temporarily due to the lack of enrollees that could sustain its operation. While we left the campus as graduates, Mr. Jamorabon stayed behind as the High School Department was still in operation, besides, he was also teaching Mathematics, and most especially, he was the coach of the basketball team. That was also the last time that I saw him.
More than ten years later, while I was attending a seminar as a PAL employee, at the Development Academy of the Philippines in Tagaytay, I received a note from, of all people, Mr. Jamorabon! He was also attending a seminar in the same facility. He saw my name among those in the list posted on the door of the room where my group was having sessions and took chance in sending me a note for the confirmation of his curiosity. When we finally met, I could not explain what I felt, for having been honored by such curiosity. I was not expecting him, a well-respected teacher in our school, to remember me, as I considered myself an insignificant student when I was in high school and college. After that meeting, it took years again before we saw each other, and that was when I was invited by our school as Commencement Exercises speaker during the last term of the Dominican Sisters as administrators. That meeting was followed, after a long time again, which was when I visited his wife, Ma’am Emma, after her stroke.
When I had a rare chance to talk to Mr. Menandro Lapuz, a respected pioneer resident, I asked him for names of people in our city, whom he consider to be outstanding as local citizens. He mentioned “Jamorabon” among the first five names without hesitation, before groping for the rest of names in his memory.
An important note on Mr. Lapuz…he and his two brothers, Eusebio and Felipe, arrived in the area when Tacurong was yet a vast land of rice paddies and swamp. They came from Luzon and upon arriving in the wharf of Cotabato they took a local ferry plying the Rio Grande de Mindanao that took them to one of the villages in Sultan sa Barongis. The Lapuzes were already comfortably settled in Tacurong when it was weaned from Buluan as one of its sitios known as Pamansang. He was around when the foundation of the Notre Dame, one of the first Catholic schools in the whole of Cotabato was established by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) fathers. He was also around when the pioneering teachers and staff of the school, together with the “working students” joined forces to construct the basketball court and multi-purpose stage, as well as, in undertaking projects for the parish church. Among those in the “volunteer labor force”, according to him, was “Ric” Jamorabon who caught his attention because of his intimidating “big voice”.
I am in touch today with Mr. Jamorabon through his sons who follow my blogs in facebook. I see in the statements of his sons when they make comments, the same rigidly- disciplined personality and wit that I experienced from their father. I do not know if my “remarkable teacher” could still recall how he let me clean the “armory” during one afternoon of PMT formation, to escape the “hair cut inspection” that he would conduct. I failed during the time to have a hair cut simply because I had no money… that, I told him straight before the formation in the field when he beckoned to me. With a straight face, he told me to run to the “armory” and sweep its floor which saved me from suffering the humiliating “crisscross” hair cut that he would give to the long-haired cadets. That recollection triggered my desire to write this blog, for how can I ever forget such kindness behind the intimidating booming voice? He knew for a fact, that being on my own, and also a working student that time and without parents, a peso meant so much.
My ardent wish is for this unassuming guy to be given due recognition that he more than deserve after spending and sacrificing the best time of his life in molding the early waves of the students of NDTC – I, being one of them, a proud graduate of an equally- proud campus in the whole of Cotabato, that used to be a struggling parochial school, but today garnering recognitions for excellence!…I am just looking back to where I came from.